The Idealized American Sniper May Leave You With More Questions Than Answers

In Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) — an astoundingly talented marksman credited with over 160 confirmed kills in Iraq — runs into a fellow veteran at a mechanic's shop between deployments. The soldier shows Kyle an artificial leg and thanks him for saving his life. Cooper, all thick with new muscles, smiles tight and false. He's just trying to get his oil changed, man.The real-life Kyle was murdered two years ago by another fellow veteran, Eddie Routh, a scrawny 25-year-old Marine with PTSD. As Cooper plays him, Kyle wears his heroism like a heavy saddle — he's spurred to do more, fight more, kill more because he feels the weight of all the American soldiers he must save. Cooper and Eastwood's Kyle is a humble, literally straight-shooting patriot who squirms when people call him a legend. "That's a title you don't want," he grunts. If Kyle were alive, one wonders what he would have made of the film — especially when Eastwood shows him staring at a TV, rattled by flashbacks triggered by the very type of war movie he's starring in.As in all biopics, American Sniper leaves audiences to parse the distinctions between Kyle the human and Kyle the character, with Eastwood, their conduit, blurring the difference. The real Chris Kyle complicated things further. He claimed that he killed two men who attempted to carjack him in Texas and got only a pat on the head from police impressed with his service record. (Country sheriffs deny the shooting ever happened.) He claimed that he had been hired by Blackwater to snipe armed looters at the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina (a fellow SEAL said that "defies the imagination"). And he even claimed that he had gotten into a bar fight with Jesse Ventura, who won a $1.8 million defamation lawsuit against Kyle's estate. Info American Sniper Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Jason Hall. Based on the book by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice. Starring Bradley Continue Reading

Paxman’s starter for 10: Can you really answer all the questions you ask?

Get a question wrong on University Challenge, and you face the scorn of Jeremy Paxman. But the show's grand inquisitor has admitted that he tests himself on all the questions before each week's recording, and knows barely 50 per cent of the answers. What's more: he cheats. Appearing at the Hay Festival, Paxman faced a taxing question of his own when a member of the public asked: "On University Challenge, you are at somewhat of an advantage over the students in so far as you have the answers. Can you tell us how many you actually know the answer to?" "All of them, of course," replied Paxman, but then he came clean. I'll be quite frank with you, there are some of them where I don't even understand the question," he said, before divulging details of his pre-show preparation. "During the production process, things go backwards and forwards. When we get to a refined stage and draft questions come, in I always print them out and I cover the answer with a piece of paper. And I then read the question and try to answer it "And then very often move the paper down a bit and say, 'Oh, of course it is!'" "So I can't give you an honest answer but it clearly wouldn't be 100%. In fact, I'd be very surprised if it's more than about 50% or 60%. I can't be accurate about it, but I'd be happy to sit a test." In previous interviews, Paxman has said University Challenge contestants should not be regarded as "nerdy" because they possess such a wealth of knowledge. But yesterday he said: "They're nerdy. So what?" He added: "I like students. I'm amazed by what they know and sometimes amazed by what they don't know. You should know more as you get older, but of course speed of retrieval is less acute." The former Newsnight presenter said he did not miss the programme, but there remain some world leaders he would like to interview. His dream interviewee would be the Pope and he "would love to have a go" at grilling Donald Trump. But he said: "I don't Continue Reading

Suzy Welch: How to deal with a nightmare co-worker

Business school may develop an employee's management and communication skills, but even with an MBA hanging on the wall, most people are unprepared to deal with challenging co-workers. It's a topic, says bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, that "they don't cover in business school." Welch tells CNBC Make It that employees will frequently encounter problem co-workers — and they're each a little bit different. "Whether you've got a gossiper, a complainer, a doomsday-er or a bully — highly dysfunctional people exist, and sometimes they can really distract you," she says. If you've got a co-worker that's negatively impacting your work, Welch suggests exploring the following four strategies: Ignoring a difficult co-worker can be hard, but according to Welch it may be the best option in order to avoid conflict. "My daughter sat next to a woman at work who constantly sang Taylor Swift songs aloud with her headphones on all day," explained Welch. Rather than confronting the co-worker about her loud music, Welch says her daughter got her own headphones and tuned the distracting noise out. Now, they're able to co-exist without tension. "This tactic works when the person is only minorly difficult and shows they want to be liked," says Welch. If you think confronting a colleague about their behavior is the best approach, then lead the Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid appears to be the answer to a question no one asked

Full Car Details More Reviews This 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid replaced a hulking Nissan Armada that had taken up residence in my driveway over the Thanksgiving holiday, and within the automaker’s SUV lineup the differences between the two are as stark as black and white. The Rogue’s petite proportions represented welcome relief after the overbearing massiveness of the Armada; its footprint is a fraction of that of the full-size SUV, and I didn’t have to worry while maneuvering to park both my test car and my family car (coincidentally, a first-generation Nissan Murano) in our driveway. That kind of relief is short-lived in this automotive journalist’s household, though, because as soon as I put on my evaluation hat, matters of personal convenience quickly become a side note to the various facts and facets that make up a vehicle. Facts are relative sometimes, though, especially in the current political climate. What looks good on paper, like, say, “Make America Great Again,” is something else entirely when you discover that making America great again apparently includes using Twitter to eviscerate people who disagree with you like you’re some kind of petulant 10-year-old suffering a serious lack of confidence. Such was my week with the updated Nissan Rogue. Fresh from a facelift and a reinvigorated powertrain lineup that now includes a hybrid model, the Rogue hopes to attract young, small families with its compact crossover goodness. The Rogue is growing in popularity, both for Nissan and within the segment. In fact, Nissan expects the Rogue to become its most popular vehicle, unless people suddenly stop buying compact crossovers en masse. So when Nissan announced that it was adding a hybrid version to the Rogue lineup, I expected that it would be a welcome addition to the family. Buyers in the segment highly value fuel efficiency, and a Rogue Hybrid would Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: Is the 2017 Kia Cadenza a thoughtful answer to a question nobody asked?

Full Car Details More Reviews What is luxury? Is it merely the whiff of supple leather and the click of highly technical features? Is it knowing that your object is composed of upscale materials that are expensive to obtain and perhaps difficult to maintain? Surely it must include the experience of possessing a name brand that others know is expensive and out of their reach, inspiring envy. For people who don’t care about that last little bit, Kia waves its arms and does its best impression of jazz hands to draw attention to the redesigned 2017 Cadenza, a full-size sedan that, in SX Limited specification, credibly reflects notions of luxury. The new 2017 Kia Cadenza is in good company. Although sales of big sedans have been shrinking over the past few years, carmakers are making better full-size cars that are more appealing than ever. Take the newest Buick LaCrosse, for example, when decked out in top trim with the tautest suspension. I also happen to think the Chevy Impala is both a good-looking car and decent to drive. Believe it or not, I’m also a big fan of the aging but still appealing Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger platform twins. Though the Cadenza landed in the U.S. just three years ago, Americans received the car halfway through its design cycle. Now, for 2017, Kia redesigns the Cadenza with a more robust architecture, a new look, and improved interior materials. It aims to lead the class in terms of design and value, drawing the attention of a dwindling buyer base that still shuns the higher seating positions and greater cargo capacities of similarly priced crossover SUVs in favor of a traditional full-size sedan. To determine if this big car met the needs of my own family, and to decide whether luxury is necessarily synonymous with brand cachet, I checked out a top-of-the-line Cadenza SX Limited ($45,340) for a week, rating and reviewing its every nook and cranny. Continue Reading

Michael Moore opens the Toronto Film Festival with a question, ‘Where to Invade Next’

TORONTO — No, Michael Moore isn’t up to his old tricks. The director — whose controversial films “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine” have made him as popular with liberals as he is hated by conservatives — is certainly stirring things up again with his new film “Where to Invade Next,” but he told a crowd at the 40th annual Toronto Film Festival that he wants to build, not tear down. “This is ‘Mike’s Happy Movie,’” said Moore, 61, about “Invade,” which features Moore “invading” progressive countries to steal their good ideas. If Italy, Tunisia, Iceland, France and Germany can have extraordinary public education, high quality health-care systems, low crime rates, humane working conditions and great quality of life, why can't America, Moore asks. "It's a 'No problems, all solutions' movie. I just want two hours of your time to present the truth of what goes on. ... We used to do some of these things. We can again." Some people will reject his movie because of the name above the title, but the Oscar-winning Moore says they do so at their own peril. "At the end of 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' I said, 'I'm tired of being the poster boy for Fox News.’ And I know I'm not alone, but it was a call to the audience to say, ‘Do something.’ Then after Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, I thought it was important to be part of what's happening (politically) again.” The film festival crowd certainly responded, offering multiple rounds of applause and a standing O. In a question-and-answer session after, Moore was asked if his movie, which focuses on countries with elected female leaders, was an explicit endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s run. “No, no!" he said. “(But) when we went to these countries, it's clear that when women have power ... Continue Reading

Daily News Tax Hotline draws big crowd; grateful readers flood phone lines with tax questions

Call us Tax HQ. The Daily News Tax Hotline kicked off with a bang on Tuesday as readers flooded the phone lines with questions for volunteers from the New York State Society of CPAs. The popular annual tax-fest continues on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Readers can call 212-210-2044 or email their questions to [email protected] The CPAs also will be taking your questions via live chat. Lottery winnings, the gift tax, lawyers' fees and mortgages were on the minds of callers on Tuesday. Ralph Erango, an 83-year-old from the Bronx, asked John Lieberman of Perelson Weiner whether his $7,500 in lottery winnings are considered taxable income. The answer: yes. Rich Dune from Marine Park, Brooklyn sold an investment property in 2013. "Is there anything I can do to minimize my taxes?" he asked. Turns out, there was something he could have done in 2013, but at this point it's too late. "If you had a capital asset, such as a stock, and you had a loss, you could have sold that stock and reduced your gain," said Joseph Nacmias of McGladrey. A retired basketball player called in with a question about attorneys' fee. He had been part of a class action suit seeking pension payments from the American Basketball Association. One third of his recovered funds went to pay the lawyers. Are those fees deductible? "He is entitled to take an itemized deduction for reasonable expenses, including those attorney fees, to recover his income," CPA Jonathan Horn answered. Thomas Schecter, a 61-year-old New York City social services worker from Yonkers asked: Is it better to pay off his mortgage or should he continue to paying it over time and get the home mortgage interest deduction? "As a general rule, if you can pay off the mortgage and still have substantial cash for emergencies and other uses, it's best to pay it off," said Peg Horan, an accounting professor at Wagner College. "The tax benefit you get, is less than Continue Reading

Robin Williams answered the ultimate question with a belt around his neck

When I heard Robin Williams had killed himself, I cherished life. One of the first things I did was email Barry Levinson, who’d directed Williams in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” his best performance, in my book, to say how sorry I was that he’d lost such a dear friend. Levinson replied: “Terrible news. It’s hard to know what happens in those dark private moments. He will be missed. A great guy.” Everybody in America was reading about Williams or watching film clips. Even President Obama offered his appreciation for this man who made the world laugh. Few saw the private tears of the clown. Then I dug out my college copy of the “Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus, the first paragraph of which stays with you for life. Or until you take it. “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.” Robin Williams answered with a belt around his neck. I never met Williams. Doesn’t matter. He met all of us. I sat with my kids years ago watching “Aladdin,” listening to him ad lib 52 separate characters that whirled out of a genie’s magic smoke that resembled Robin Williams’ brilliant mind. That experience, seeing that film with my laughing kids in a darkened Brooklyn theater, is a cherished memory of my life. So Williams lives on in me, and countless millions of other perfect strangers. News of his suicide made me reel back to a pal named Glenn from my old Brooklyn stomping ground who in his late 20s was living in Jersey — alone, jobless, depressed — and answered Camus’ philosophical question by placing a shotgun in his Continue Reading

Question and answer with a CPA

Got a money question? We'll ask the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants to help get an answer. Write to us at . Q: I am a new mother and am wondering about tax deductions, credits and exemptions. What's allowed? i'm married and our household income is $50,000 a year. A: Based on your status as a married individual with a child, there are several tax-planning opportunities for you. Your retirement: Yes, you are a new mom, but now is the time to focus on your retirement savings plan. If your employer offers a plan, contribute the maximum. Many employers match a contribution - an extra bonus. Your home: most homeowners understand the value of their mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions, but less understood is the ramifications of a refinanced loan. There are costs associated with refinancing and limitations to the interest deduction. If you live in your home for two years or more, you can exclude up to $500,000 ($250,000 if you're single) from the sale of your primary home. Your health: Your greatest asset. To the best of your financial ability, try to never go without health insurance. Many people cover their children but not themselves. But if anything happens to you, the medical costs could cause you to file for bankruptcy and lose your home. If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you can deduct contributions to a health savings account and later make tax-free withdrawals to pay qualified medical expenses. Flexible spending accounts are another tax-savings program to help pay medical costs. Your child: A tax deduction until he or she graduates from college. Additionally, you may take a child care credit if both spouses work, earning income and paying for child care costs. Your child's education: Enroll in the New York 529 College Savings Program. You can contribute up to $10,000 a year for your child's college tuition, which is a deduction on your state return. Interest grows tax free. Ginger Broderick, CPA, Continue Reading

NFL’s next question: What to expect from DeflateGate and answers to a few other 2015 issues

Sources say Tom Brady’s marathon appeals hearing will be ending any minute as Maxwell Smart finishes detailing why the Ideal Gas Law had nothing to do with the Patriots’ deflated footballs but was in fact the reason Pete Carroll didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the end of the Super Bowl. Now that the offseason programs are over, the only down time in the NFL calendar will be briefly interrupted when Roger Goodell issues his Brady ruling sometime before the Patriots report to camp on July 29. To keep NFL fans engaged, in the event they’re suffering from withdrawal in the absence of all those breathless reports from minicamp, we offer this challenge: Correctly guess the number of knuckleheads arrested before the first training camp practice and win a chance to hang out with the media for 11 hours outside the league’s Park Ave. office when the player who commits the most egregious infraction shows up with his legal team to appeal his suspension. Anyway, here are the top 10 questions to think about on the beach before Tom Coughlin barks at the first question in camp regarding the timetable for Odell Beckham to get on the field. Q: When will Goodell inform Brady if his four-game suspension sticks or if it’s been reduced to one, two, three or no games? A: I think the earliest is the week of July 6. Goodell owes it to the Patriots to let them know before they open camp — which will be just over six months since this whole fiasco began — if Bill Belichick must get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start the Sept. 10 opener against the Steelers. By the way, there were three legal teams at the Brady hearing on the NFL’s behalf: its own outside counsel, investigator Ted Wells’ firm and a firm brought in to defend Wells’ report. The Wells report cost the NFL an astounding $5 million, and when you factor in the billable hours from three firms after the 10-hour hearing — plus a one-hour lunch Continue Reading